Delegation is an Essential Manager Skill: Free Yourself from your to-do list with Effective Delegation

One look at an ever expanding to-do list and the facts are clear: You can’t do everything yourself. That’s why your delegation skills are will determine whether you are an effective manager or not. Get delegation in management right and you can use it as a tool to manage your workload. Plus increase the productivity and skills of your employees. And it’s not just about making your life better because your employees will love the opportunities to grow. But delegation just is one of those essential manager skills that they just don’t teach you in school. Which means most managers are making delegation mistakes. The great thing is you can get better when you follow a proven delegation process.

PS: This article includes material from Delegation Essentials. If you’re a boss who wants to get more from your delegation skills then sign up for Delegation Essentials.

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The Delegation Process:

Some managers strength is their ability to move fast. While others love a well thought out plan. Moving fast is a great leadership strength but often results in breakages. Planning is also a leadership strength but sometimes these managers get behind because of a lack of action. Following a Delegation Process is going to prevent breakages and keep you on schedule: The overview of the delegation process looks like this:

  1. Decide to commit

  2. Identify what to Delegate

  3. Drop the distractions

  4. Identify who to delegate to

  5. Rehearse your delegation

  6. Make the Delegation

  7. Prepare to avoid reverse delegation

  8. Follow up

  9. Bonus: Change Management

If you’re just starting to delegate or polishing up your delegation manager skills that’s a good process to follow. If you’re interested in a little more on the importance of each step and what exactly to do in it, here’s a little more detail:

1. Decide to Commit

Do delegation right and the benefits far outweigh the costs. But the reality it will take some time and making mistakes is part of the learning curve. If you’re going to start but give up before your investment pays returns then I can save you time right now - don’t start :-)

Helpful resource: If you have good intentions to develop your manager skills but get distracted by urgent but less important tasks then the first step to developing yourself is of course sticking to a proven Self Leadership process.

2. Identify What to Delegate

Are your priorities neglected because you’re too busy with work you shouldn’t be doing? Maximizing your value doesn’t mean doing as much as possible. Maximizing your value is about focusing on your priorities and delegating the rest to your employees.

When you’re starting your delegation journey - you’ll have more success delegating the stuff that’s easy to delegate.

Helpful resource: How to identify what to delegate

3. Drop the Distractions

When you find out about all of the benefits of delegation, it’s going to seem like delegation is an exciting new toy that can fix all your problems. And the temptation will be to delegate as much as possible to your employees.

But the secret to success isn’t trying to do everything - success is about knowing what not to do. Before you delegate, spring clean tasks that seem worthwhile but are really distractions from your true goals.

Helpful resource: Steve Jobs knew that focus “means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are”. But how do you say no to a good idea? Got 10 minutes to watch a bonus video on how to spring clean before delegating?

4. Identify Who to Delegate to

The wonderful thing about people is that we are all different. That means that what is mind numbingly dull for you can be an interesting challenge for someone else. And what is difficult for you could be right up one of your employee’s street. Avoid the manager mistake of thinking that everyone is the same as you and that anyone should be able to do anything.

Effective managers know how to use diversity as a strength. Personally I use the DISC model to understand people, sometimes better than they know themselves.

Helpful resource: Do you know what your manager strengths are? Do you know what your weaknesses are? Finding out your Boss SuperPower is a great way to start.

5. Rehearse Your Delegation

Managing is hard. People are complex. Being a professional manager means treating your management skills like any discipline. Effective managers spend time learning management skills and practicing them to get better.

Plus if you’re a little low on confidence, running through a delegation script will give your confidence a boost.

Delegation Tip: Anticipate the objections and plan how to deal with objections in advance.

6. Make the Delegation

The best place to make your delegation is in your one on one meeting with your employee. Because this is a controlled environment where you have your employees undivided attention.

Helpful Resource: Plan and keep track of your delegations with a One on One Meeting Template. Get this and more in the free, online course: 3 Steps 2 Easy 1 on 1s

7. Prepare to Avoid Reverse Delegation

What’s worse than not delegating is delegating and then ending up having to do it yourself anyway. Because you’ve just doubled your workload.

Delegation isn’t easy - it’s a learning process, things will go wrong. And if you’re a manager who just wants to get things done or if you’re a boss who likes to solve problems then you’re going to have to fight your own natural tendencies to fix things yourself. Effective managers don’t solve all the problems by themselves, they use active listening skills to train their employees to solve their own problems.

Delegation Tip: This trick is from one of my past bosses. Delegate the same task to more than one person. Then you can pick the best solution. Or you can use a combination of the different solutions to get an answer that is better than a single person could do. Want to get better results? You can create competition for the best solution. Plus this serves as a “live trial” so that you can figure out who is best to take over the responsibility on a long term basis.

8. Follow up

Most initiatives fail not because they are bad ideas but rather because of a lack of follow up. One way to build ownership in your employees is by following up and holding them accountable.

The first delegation tip for follow up is that when you delegate, give your employee the responsibility to report back to you. Because then you don’t have to chase work up. This is the reason behind setting clear reporting requirements in your delegation script.

The second delegation tip is that the best place for follow up in in your One on One Meetings with your Employees. Because: this is time already set aside and it’s a controlled environment. Plus having regular One on One Meetings ensures that you keep on moving forward.

Helpful Resource: Delegation skills are one of the Foundational Manager Skills. Did you know that running a kick butt One on One meeting that builds relationships and gets stuff done is also a manager skill? Improve your One on One Meeting skills over here

9. Bonus: Change Management

The tricky thing with management is that you’re working with other people. It doesn’t matter how good you are at your job if the people around you aren’t bought into what you’re doing. Before you even make your first delegation get the stakeholders on your side with change management.

Delegation Tip: One stakeholder is your own manager. Keep your own boss in the loop. And ask for their support by selling how you are using delegation to improve the skills and abilities of your employees.

Delegation Tip: Another stakeholder is the customer of the process. They should be informed of changes and engaged to support any temporary disruption.

Delegation Tip: Last, but not least, a major stakeholder are your employees who you’re going to delegate work to. Get them informed and on your side by explaining what is required of them and selling the benefits of delegation for employees. Then ask for their support in the delegation process before you even delegate a single task to them.

Next Steps:

So if you work improve your delegation process in management then use the process above to improve your own manager skills. Better delegation skills leads to successful delegation. Successful delegation will save you management time, it will grow the skills and capabilities of your team. Plus successful delegation improves employee retention because your employees won’t need to look elsewhere to grow and progress. Successful delegation lies on your path to being a better boss.

PS: Start your journey to being a better boss with more bonuses, promotions and increases by improving your delegation skills. If you found this content helpful, get more on successful delegation over here.


Do you have any comments, questions, or tips about delegating to employees? Please share in the comments below.